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Compensation for Damages Caused by Driver Negligence

October 10, 2017

Many times personal injury caused by a driver’s negligence can’t be adequately compensated by existing auto policies. Insurance of an employer of a negligent driver might make the difference if the accident occurs in the scope of employment. Issues about whether a negligent driver is within the scope of employment can be challenging.

As a general rule, activity outside the work site, including the drive to and from work, are not considered to be a part of  “employment”.  However, this general rule has been distinguished in both vicarious liability and worker’s compensation cases if there is any benefit being provided to the employer related to the drive. The test appears to not be the value of the benefit to the employer but the ability to observe a separate function attached to the drive that is connected to a benefit for the employer.

Vicarious Liability

Best Steel Bldgs Inc v. Hardin, 553 S.W. 122, 129 (Tex. App.—Tyler 1977, writ ref’d nre)  “The fact that the preponderate motive of the servant is to benefit himself or a third person does not prevent the act from being within the scope of employment.“

Chevron U.S.A., Inc v. Lee, 847 S.W.2d 354, 356 (Tex. App.—El Paso1993, no writ)  An exception to this general rule exists when an employee “has undertaken a special mission at the direction of his employer or is otherwise performing a service in furtherance of the employer’s business with the express or implied approval of the employer” citing Gebert v. Clifton, 553 S.W.2d 230, 232 (Tex.Civ.App.--Houston [14th Dist.] 1977, writ dismissed).

Worker’s Compensation

Janak v. Tex. Emp. Ins. Assn., 381 SW2d 176 (Tex 1964)  Riding in car pool to work with additional duty of picking up ice for work site.

St. Paul Fire and Marine v. Confer 956 S.W.2d 825 (Tex Civ App 1997)  Picking up cassette cleaners

North River Ins Co v. John Hubbard 391 F2 863 (5th Cir 1968)